An Englishman abroad: Sambourne in Holland

This week we’re travelling with Edward Linley Sambourne again. Sambourne was an active man even in his later years. He thought nothing of taking a train to Scotland on a Sunday for a couple of days shooting returning for lunch with his Punch colleagues on Wednesday. So his tour through Holland in April 1906 is quite typical. He was with his wife Marion and maybe his daughter but as always he took photographs of women in the street. In the cities The Hague and Amsterdam he saw women dressed in the usual middle class day wear as seen in his pictures of London and Paris.

Here in The Hague a lone woman waits outside a grand building. Is that a bag in her hand or a large muff?

On a quieter street a group stop to talk, in a poorly composed picture (but understandable if Sambourne was using his right angle camera)

One of the districts of The Hague is Scheveningen, a seaside area where Sambourne found young women dressed in traditional working class costume.

They would have sparked off Sambourne’s desire to catalogue different kinds of costume. The Sambourne archive at Leighton House is full of pictures of military and civil uniforms and all kinds of working dress. He also catches the seaside architecture in the background. I think the domed building is the Kurhaus, a hotel and restaurant opened in 1886.

One of this trio is giving him a suspicious look. But the pair below seem happy to pose for a picture with part of the pier behind them.

Sambourne and his party didn’t linger long in one place. They moved south on to Delft, home of the celebrated pottery and the artist Vermeer and just as picturesque in 1906 as it is today.

An excellent view of a woman crossing over one of the canals and below, more tall windows, traditional costume and curious glances.

The next stop was Haarlem. Although the picture below is also badly composed, Sambourne has inadvertently captured a tram line and a group of women carefully crossing it, along with his main subjects the two women in the foreground.

And in this picture, his interest is probably in the uniform of the nursery maid, but we can also see some characteristic Dutch architecture.

The next two pictures were taken in Amsterdam. Although the picture has faded with age it is still a good street scene especially the curious man in the background not looking where he’s going.

Another picture taken the same day which catches activity in the background.

There’s a clear contrast with some of the pictures taken in London and Paris – it’s obviously not a warm April.

From Amsterdam they went south to Utrecht where he met these three, who stopped long enough for a picture.

Can I throw in an entirely gratuitous reference to Dr Strabismus (whom God Preserve)?

Utrecht may have been an excursion as the same day they make their way back towards Amsterdam.

This is a river or canal side view taken in Muiden, a suburb or district of Amsterdam.

This woman was photographed having difficulty in the wind another place near Amsterdam, Marken then a peninsula in the Zuiderzee, an inland sea which was turned into the freshwater lake called the Ijsselmeer in the 1930s.

The party turned south again and a few days later were in the city of Middelburg, the capital of Zeeland. Here he found another traditional costume.

He found further examples in the seaside resort of Domburg.

This group look fairly serious but the final picture was taken in Westkapelle, a small city surrounded on three sides by water. A group of teenagers pay no attention to Sambourne but what three of them are looking at and the other one is ignoring we’ll never know.

Thanks to Sambourne expert Shirley Nicholson for some insights into his character.


Last week’s excursion into an alternate reality was illustrated with some pictures of the world we know. One reader expressed an interest so here is a list as they appeared in the post:

Weymouth Street 1993

Hampton Court, Great Fountain Garden 1984

The Garrick Club 1962

Chiswick Park 1962

Chiswick House 1984

Crystal Palace Park 1984

Laeken Royal Glasshouses, Belgium

Interior – North Audley Street 1962

Woman in black: private collection

Dance company in Lausanne 1916: library collection

Hampton Court 1962

One response to “An Englishman abroad: Sambourne in Holland

  • mlle p

    Great photos – I love this website. It’s fascinating to see how women’s bodies were concealed and made into different shapes according to the fashion – bells, hourglass, etc.

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